The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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Rolling over, Bucky opened his eyes and found himself face to face with Tourmaline. He blinked a few times and felt Tourmaline stroking the good side of his face. Even though her body was hard and chitinous, her touch was soft.

From what little that Bucky understood, it was part of a perception warping field, at least according to Luna. Tourmaline’s body was still hard and armored, but she wanted to feel soft so Bucky’s brain registered her touch as being soft.

Bucky licked the roof of his mouth and almost gagged. His mouth tasted terrible. His tongue was a shriveled raisin. There was still a sour smell in his nostrils.

“I grabbed you last night… did I hurt you?” Bucky asked, his voice a dry raspy croak.

“No, but you spooked me.” Tourmaline reached up and began to stroke one of Bucky’s ears. “Your claws were cold.”

Guilt fell over Bucky like a shroud. “I’m sorry.”

“No worries.” Tourmaline smiled a sunny smile, a smile that conveyed warmth. She had been taking lessons from her mother, who was said to be the alicorn of sunny smiles.

Once again, Bucky marveled that a changeling could smile.

“You had things crawling inside of you.” Tourmaline’s face became worried and her sunny smile hid behind dark clouds of fear.

Bucky, who did not lift his head, nodded, which caused the sheet to rumple somewhat.

“Mama made them go away. She brought the sunshine in here,” Tourmaline said in a low voice.

Extending his will, Bucky reached out his mind, touched a very powerful source of Celestia’s magic, and called Tourmaline’s green framed glasses into existence. Saying nothing, he slid them onto Tourmaline’s face and she became the unicorn filly that he knew so well. Jet black with a soft pink pastel mane. Her stubby wings where the last things to vanish.

“I can see again,” Tourmaline said, blinking behind her glasses.

“Those do more than disguise you?” Bucky asked.

“I didn’t know that I had bad eyes until Celestia gave me the glasses. She said she noticed me stumbling around. She thinks it is because I was kept in the dark for so long and my eyes didn’t grow right.” Reaching up with her foreleg, Tourmaline adjusted her glasses, sliding them up along her nasal bridge.

“Bucky, dear, you need a shower and some mouthwash,” Celestia said as she raised her head. She twisted her head off to one side, and then the other, causing her neck to crackle and pop. “How are you feeling Bucky? You gave us a good scare.”

“I feel okay… I guess,” Bucky replied.

“Liars get apples thrown at them by Applejack,” Tourmaline said, reaching out and poking Bucky with her hoof.

“Oh that’s not fair… I can’t hide anything from you.” Bucky lay there as Tourmaline prodded and poked him over and over.

“Tell the truth or I’ll tell Bon Bon.” Tourmaline gave Bucky one final prod.

“Oh bother… okay, I don’t feel so good. But I’ll be fine if I can take a shower and get something to eat.” Bucky’s words came out in a low grumble. “The bed feels like an oven. I don’t know if I want to get out of bed just yet.”

“Buckminster, I must insist. Your breath could knock a buzzard off of an earth pony’s outhouse.” Celestia reached out and poked Bucky once with her hoof.

“You’re kicking me out of my own bed?” Bucky asked.

Celestia raised one graceful eyebrow into a perfect regal arch. “You are free to return when your mouth has been properly exorcised of stink demons.”

“But this is my bed,” Bucky said in protest.

“Buckminster, can we please continue this argument after you have some Dr. Goodpony’s Savoury Smile Mouthwash?” Celestia asked, maintaining her regal air as Tourmaline collapsed into giggling. She gave Bucky another gentle prod. “Go on… go forth oh noble knight and slay the evil stink demons.”

Twisting his body around, Bucky tried to get his legs beneath him. The strain caused him to break wind, a tiny squealer that slipped free. Bucky froze, unsure of the proper etiquette of having an alicorn princess in the bed with you when you farted.

Tourmaline was still giggling and Bucky was certain that he could hear Thistle giggling as well. The stink demons had company. Bucky looked at Celestia, not sure what to say or do.

Shaking her head, Celestia raised her hoof to silence Bucky before he had a chance to say anything, then she leaned over, one wing pumped a few times, and then, Celestia sat there in silence, waiting.

“Ugh! Gah! I can taste it!” Bucky pulled himself free from his entanglement with Berry Punch. He slid out of the bed, stood on the floor, and wiped his nose with his foreleg. This was almost as bad as one of Fluttershy’s silent but deadly creepers. Bucky had experienced one of those firsthoof, and had almost not lived to tell the tale.

“I am part earth pony and pegasus. I am the living embodiment of a flaming, burning ball of gas. Do not tempt fate Buckminster Bitters, or you will meet the same fate as my sister Luna.” Celestia’s tone was imperious, regal, but her expression was betrayed by the corners of her mouth twitching into a smile.

There was giggling from the bed as Bucky headed for the door.

“Wait Bucky, I’m coming with you,” Berry Punch said as she slipped out of the bed.

 

 

Exiting from the bathroom, Bucky found himself surrounded by griffons. He looked down at them as they looked up at him. He saw worried little faces.

“He’s okay,” Berry Punch said in a reassuring voice.

“Lugus is already eating. We have breakfast prepared,” a small male griffon said, sitting up on his haunches and wringing his talons together in a nervous fit. “If you would like, we can prepare for you a fresh cricket and cheese omelette.”

“Hmm, that sounds good,” Bucky replied.

One of the females approached, looking fearful and worried. “We saw a changeling.” After speaking, she scampered away and hid behind one of the males.

Bucky sighed and did his best to keep a neutral expression. He heard Berry grumbling something he could not make out beside him. Not knowing what to do, Bucky decided to trust in his griffons.

“It is very important that you keep this a secret. She is very dear to me and Celestia. She is dear to all of us. And if word got out that she was a changeling, there are those that would do her harm. And then I would have to hunt them down, disembowel them, and hang them by their own entrails after I pissed and crapped down their spurting neckhole. That would mean a lot of work for me… unpleasant work that I’d rather not do. So can you please, please keep this a secret?” Bucky looked around at the crowd of little faces, meeting each and every eye.

Wide eyed, the griffons huddled together. Some of them had seen Bucky on the day of his rampage through Griffonholm and they knew from experience that his words were not an idle threat. Their king had a creative streak when it came to violence. Their king was an artist, misery and suffering were his canvas, at least when his ire was aroused.

One brave male stepped forward. “If she is dear to you, she is dear to us. We will fight to the death to protect her. Her secret is safe with us.” The male saluted, clenching his talons into a fist and placing them over his heart. He looked up at Berry Punch. “And you my queen… what would you like for breakfast?”

Berry Punch took a moment to think and then asked, “What is there to eat?”

“We have oatmeal ready, a selection of frozen fruit that has been thawed, a delicious banquet of bugs, and the kitchen staff are prepared to cook anything we have on board,” the griffon replied.

“One dozen eggs, one dozen pieces of toast, some pineapple if you have it, and lots of oatmeal,” Berry said.

“We will have it ready for you… do come to the dining hall.” The griffon looked up at Bucky, daring to look Bucky in the eye. “Sir, I have a question.”

“Yes?” Bucky replied.

“It feels wrong to be serving bugs for breakfast with a changeling on board. Should we prepare something else?” the griffon asked.

“No, I’ll take that cricket omelette. Everything will be fine,” Bucky said.

 

 

As Bucky chewed, he stabbed his next bite of food with his fork. He watched as Lugus juggled, there were at least a dozen spoons being tossed through the air, and Bucky found himself almost entranced by the display of manual dexterity. Lugus was sitting, balanced on his haunches, keeping each spoon aloft with perfect timing. Bucky knew that Lugus was fast and that Lugus was far more agile than a creature his size should be, but this display was astounding.

The little griffons with nothing to do had gathered around to watch.

Lugus snatched each spoon out of the air when Celestia entered the dining hall, which also served as the common room. He set them down in a hurry and watched as the little griffons scrambled to greet Celestia, who they fawned over.

As Celestia sat down, several griffons scurried off to the kitchens, some flying, some running. One flew to Celestia’s table with a pitcher of orange juice.

Bucky watched them work. At home, he had forbade them from acting as servants in his house, a command that had caused much talon wringing and nervous squawking. From what Bucky understood, to keep in practice, they took turns serving one another, keeping their skills sharp for moments just like this one.

“Buckminster, I must have a word with you about your showers… they are are far too small,” Celestia said as a griffon poured a glass of orange juice.

Shrugging, Bucky replied, “Berry Punch and I were able to fit in there just fine.”

“Bucky… given the dimensions of the shower, that would mean you would need to stack two ponies on top of—” Celestia fell silent and a wry smile appeared upon her face. She shook her head and chuckled. “As it was, I had to wash the front half of me while the back half remained outside the shower. And then I had to wash the back half with the front half sticking out, which was awkward.”

“I bet. Especially after that skidmark inducing fart in the bed.” Bucky stuffed his fork into his mouth and began to chew, making a lot of noise as he did so.

“What is it that Luna says? Something like… you, minion, are too saucy,” Celestia said as she lifted her glass of orange juice. She took a drink and her lips puckered. “Oh my. For some reason I was expecting orange juice.”

“Dehydrated powdered orange juice drink mix. Tastes real bad after you wash out your mouth with Dr. Goodpony’s Savoury Smile Mouthwash. I still have around a thousand pounds of the stuff.” Lifting his own glass, Bucky emptied it down and then grimaced. “Sentinel loves this stuff, he can’t get enough of it. He likes to lick the powder.”

“Sentinel also loves the taste of toothpaste,” Berry Punch said around mouthful of toast.

The griffons huddled around Celestia, looking up at her with expressions of adoration. One of the females came forward, timid, looking upward only for a moment and then averting her eyes to the floor.

“What would our beloved Sun Mother like for breakfast?” the griffoness asked.

Celestia, surprised, did a double take. “Did you… did you just call me Sun Mother?”

The griffoness squirmed and bowed her head. “Did I offend?”

“No,” Celestia wished the griffons would stop bowing and scraping around her. “No, I thought it was beautiful, thank you.”

One of the males looked up for a moment. “You are the Sun Mother, Luna is the Moon Mother… our king is Winter Father.” The griffon bowed his head and flexed his talons in a nervous gesture. “We were rescued from a terrible nightmare and brought to a land where we can frolic in the sun, sing and make love under the moon, and we have been given shelter from the harsh winter. We are living a dream.”

There was a clatter as Bucky dropped his fork.

Celestia looked down at the griffons flocking around her. “That is beautiful.”

One of the females looked up. “We were told to be poetic and find beauty. Have we done well?” The little griffoness looked hopeful.

“You have done very well. Your words have touched me. Who told you to be poetic and find beauty?” Celestia asked.

Saying nothing, but moving all as one in a group, each of the griffons pointed at Bucky.

Bucky blinked in surprise, not expecting to be outed in this fashion.

One of the males looked over at Bucky, and then at Celestia. “He made a decree that we were no longer servant griffons, but instead be known as artist griffons. He then told us to be poetic and find beauty.”

“Sun Mother, can we prepare you some food?” one of the griffonesses asked.

“I recommend the cricket and cheese omelette. You will find none better,” Bucky said.

“A cheese omelette would be nice,” Celestia replied. “But no crickets for me, thank you.”

A lone griffon flew off to the kitchen to tell the others.

A griffon standing near the door let out a sharp whistle, which caused almost every crest in the room to raise up. The assembled griffons almost seemed to panic as they took up position near the door.

“Our queen approaches!”

Picking up his fork, Bucky tore into the remains of his omelette.

 

 

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